Shelby County School Board approves buyout of Aitken's contract - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County School Board approves buyout of Aitken's contract

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MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – The Unified Shelby County School Board lost its second superintendent in as many months after approving a buyout Tuesday night of John Aitken's contract.

It was an emotional night for school board members.

Aitken gets 323 thousand dollars to leave two years before his contract was supposed to end.

His says the decision was totally his.

"Family.. I'm gonna get through this. Love y'all," he said.

Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken fought back tears while others let them flow.

"It's not right for a grown man to sit up here and do this is it?" Aitken commented.

He basically said goodbye after the board unanimously approved a severance agreement he requested.

"Sometimes you reach a milestone in life and have to make tough decisions," he said.

The buyout comes two months after Memphis City Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash left under a similar arrangement. Aitken will stay on for a time in an advisory role, but no longer as superintendent.

"I just want the public to understand - it was requested by me," Aitken explained.

The board moves forward with a superintendent search in which Aitken would have simply been another applicant. Some on the board wanted him to stay.

"It's difficult for me to find a silver lining right now because I know what a huge loss this is for SCS," board member Mary Anne Gibson said.

"You've been a true soldier throughout this process and this hasn't been a pretty process - but we wish you well," added board member Kevin Woods.

Aitken says he plans to stay in Shelby County and has confidence in the folks he leaves behind.

"Some incredible people with a reason for moving forward - and that has to continue," he said.

Aitken will stay on in that advisory role through the end of May. He laughed off questions about whether he'd entertain offers from municipal districts when and if they form.

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